The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 22:30, 23:6-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 1, 2016

Text in red are my additions.

Act 22:30 But on the next day, meaning to know more diligently for what cause he was accused by the Jews, he loosed him and commanded the priests to come together and all the council: and, bringing forth Paul, he set him before them.

“And all the Council”—the Sanhedrim. “Commanded the Priests,” &c. This convening of a Council by a Roman Military Tribunal shows what little liberty, even in religious matters, the Jews enjoyed under the Roman dominion.

“Bringing forth Paul” from the Castle to the place where the meeting was held, usually, in the house of the High Priest.

“Set him before them,” to plead his cause, and let all see the true state of the case and the nature of the accusations brought against him.

Act 23:6 And Paul, knowing that the one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, cried out in the council: Men, brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees: concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.

Knowing from his former acquaintance with the members and their character.

“Pharisees” and “Sadducees,” (see Matthew 3:7, Commentary on).

He wishes to enlist in his favour a great number of the members, by a kind of side issue, in introducing the much controverted question, especially among the Pharisees and Sadducees, regarding the Resurrection of the dead.

“A Pharisee,” formerly when professing Judaism.

Act 23:7 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. And the multitude was divided.

“The multitude,” composing the Sanhedrim.

Dissension. See Luke 2:34-35; Acts 14:4, 21:34.

Act 23:8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

Sadducees. It is said that their teaching had its rise in the thought that “God’s servants should not do service with the hope of reward.” As the life to come would be a reward we are told that their doctrine developed into the denial of the Resurrection. As we meet with them in the New Testament, they are mainly members of the priestly order, and appear to have accepted only the written Law, as distinct from tradition, yet in spite of the mention of angels in the Pentateuch they appear to have explained the language in such wise as to identify these angelic appearances with some manifestation of the divine glory, and thus to have come to deny the existence of any spiritual beings distinct from God Himself. In political matters they were on the side of Rome, and in consequence are found uniting at times with the Herodians.

Act 23:9 And there arose a great cry. And some of the Pharisees rising up, strove, saying: We find no evil in this man. What if a spirit hath spoken to him, or an angel?

“If a spirit or an angel.” The chief distinctive doctrine of the Pharisees was, the Resurrection of the dead. The opposite was the case with the Sadducees, which Paul well knew. He turns to account on this occasion, his knowledge of their discordant feelings and opinions.

Act 23:10 And when there arose a great dissension, the tribune, fearing lest Paul should be pulled in pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and to take him by force from among them and to bring him into the castle.

It was on account of his knowing, that Paul was a Roman citizen, that the Tribune felt much interest in his safety.

Act 23:11 And the night following, the Lord standing by him, said: Be constant: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.

“Night following.” How this consoling and encouraging apparition took place is not mentioned. It conveyed an assurance that Paul’s mode of acting before the Sanhedrim was pleasing to our Lord. There is no allusion to a dream or ecstasy. Hence, many hold it occurred while Paul was awake. He ardently desired to visit Rome (19:21). He now receives an assurance that his wishes will be gratified. “Constant,” in Greek “take courage,” “be without fear.”

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